Pubdate: Sat, 02 Dec 2006
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2006 The New York Times Company
Author: Sarah Kershaw
Bookmark: (Policing - United States)


The bus from Miami rolled into the Port Authority station at 6:25 p.m.
Thursday, 28 hours after Marie Rose Dorismond set out for New York
City, alone on her grim pilgrimage.

It was not the first time she had returned to the place she fled after
her only son, Patrick M. Dorismond, was killed at age 26 by the police
in 2000; she comes back every Feb. 28, on his birthday, and stays
through March 16, the day he was shot in a scuffle with undercover
detectives only a few blocks from the bus station. He is buried in

This time, clutching a rolling suitcase and three sets of neatly
pressed dress clothes on hangers, Mrs. Dorismond was returning for the
funeral of Sean Bell, the 23-year-old bridegroom who died in Queens on
Saturday in a storm of 50 police bullets.

And in doing so, she returned to join again what amounts to an
anguished club: the widening circle of unintended friends made up of
the relatives of those killed by the police in the city's streets.

She was here to make herself available to the Bell family, people she
had never met but who felt to her like instant sisters and brothers.
And when she could not find a flight that would get her to New York on
time, Mrs. Dorismond, 59, traveling alone for the first time, decided
to take a Greyhound bus.

"I don't know what I would have done without them," Mrs. Dorismond, a
Haitian immigrant who came to New York at 18 to study nursing, said of
the relatives of Amadou Diallo and others who died in encounters with
the police. "Nobody can understand that pain but me, Mrs. Diallo and
the others. When it was my turn, everybody came."

They had come and been there for her, rushing to her side to introduce
themselves -- at her son's wake, at his funeral, at the protests on
the streets. Amadou Diallo's mother, Malcolm Ferguson's mother,
Nicholas Heyward Jr.'s father, Abner Louima himself.

At Sean Bell's wake yesterday, in a crowded church in Jamaica, Queens,
Mrs. Dorismond was weeping in the second row of pews, only a few feet
from the open coffin, when Amadou Diallo's mother, Kadiatou, arrived.
Mrs. Dorismond rushed to her friend, the two hugged for several
minutes, and Mrs. Dorismond shouted: "Again? Again? Again?"

As hundreds of people passed through the church to view the coffin, a
crowd of protesters ebbed and flowed on the streets outside, swelling
to about 500 people by the time the funeral was over and Mr. Bell's
coffin was carried out of the church at 8:30 p.m. Many held signs that
said, "Justice for Sean Bell," and demonstrators denounced police
brutality over loudspeakers, but the event was largely peaceful.

It was Mrs. Dorismond's first such funeral since her son was killed,
but others, like Nicholas Heyward, whose son was killed in 1994, could
count off half a dozen.

In addition to his son, 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was
playing with a toy gun when he was killed by a housing officer in
Brooklyn, recent victims of violent encounters with the police
included Amadou Diallo, killed in a hail of 41 bullets in the Bronx;
Malcolm Ferguson, a drug suspect whose death came only five days after
officers were acquitted in Mr. Diallo's death; Gidone Busch, a
mentally ill man killed by the police in Brooklyn; Patrick Dorismond,
killed by an undercover narcotics detective in Manhattan; and Sean
Bell, killed in Queens when five undercover detectives opened fire on
his car.

In the days before Mr. Bell's funeral, the anguished club's grapevine
was in full operation: Mrs. Dorismond heard, but was not positive,
that Mrs. Diallo, whose son was killed in 1999, would come from Maryland.

Mrs. Diallo, meanwhile, was in close contact with the mothers of
Gidone Busch, whom she speaks to every month, and Timothy Stansbury
Jr., an unarmed man killed in 2004, but neither was able to attend the
Bell funeral.

Mr. Heyward had said he was going and was pleased to hear that Mrs.
Dorismond was coming. Juanita Young, whose son Malcolm Ferguson was
killed in 2000, told Mr. Heyward, now a very close friend, that she
really wanted to go, but he talked her out of it because she had just
been released from the hospital.

"I know what the families are going through right now," Mr. Heyward
had said before the funeral. "It's really, really tough right now.
Right now they are completely lost. Sometimes you may think they are
all right, but they are completely lost."

Mrs. Dorismond recalled feeling exactly that way in the chaotic and
surreal days after her son's death, which a grand jury found to be
unintentional and which resulted in no charges against the officer.

There was also the overlaying public spectacle, with protests at her
son's funeral erupting in violence and dozens of people being
arrested. There were marches, with the Rev. Al Sharpton by Mrs.
Dorismond's side, the constant glare of television cameras, a public
battle between the Dorismonds and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Mrs.
Dorismond's and Mrs. Diallo's meeting with Gov. George E. Pataki.

Two weeks after her son died, Mrs. Dorismond, a retired pediatric
nurse, said she was looking out the window of her fourth-floor
apartment in East Flatbush, where she had lived for 30 years, and saw
a dead body on the building's steps. Mrs. Dorismond and her husband,
Andre, a well-known singer among Haitians whom fans called the
"Haitian Frank Sinatra," had already decided to move to Florida, where
they were building a house.

The body, appearing so soon after their son's death, persuaded them to
leave New York as quickly as possible, and they settled in the quiet
town of Port St. Lucie with their daughter, Marie, 35, and one of
Patrick Dorismond's two daughters, Infinity, now 11.

As she made her way from the bus terminal to a friend's car on
Thursday and rode to Brooklyn, where she is staying with a brother in
East Flatbush, Mrs. Dorismond's anger boiled up. With every passing
police car, every sound of a siren, she fumed.

"You might as well stay away," Mrs. Dorismond said. "You cannot live
with Satan. New York City is like a jungle place."

Mr. Dorismond's other daughter, Destiny, 7, is living with her mother
in New York. The city settled a civil lawsuit in the case and paid the
family $2.25 million. Mrs. Dorismond said all the money was in a trust
fund for her son's daughters, who will be allowed access to what she
estimated would grow to $10 million only after they turn 25.

Mrs. Dorismond, who spent yesterday morning on Flatbush Avenue having
her nails and hair done for the Sean Bell funeral, said that both of
the girls talked about wanting to become police officers, "so they can
find out what really happened."

Infinity seems especially focused on what happened to her father,
writing songs that she sings aloud to him, asking her aunt and
grandmother all kinds of questions.

"I am young and I don't know," begins one of Infinity's songs. "I'm
going to be a police, I want to know how they killed you."

For a while, her aunt said, Infinity worried about what her father was
wearing when he was buried.

"Did my daddy have shoes on his feet when he was in the box?" she
asked her aunt.

"No shoes, I don't think so," Ms. Dorismond replied. "But he was
buried in a cream suit."

Sean Bell was buried in a pinstriped suit, and yesterday Mrs.
Dorismond and Mrs. Diallo spent four hours sitting next to each other,
catching up -- Mrs. Diallo is now the grandmother of triplets; Mrs.
Dorismond has retired -- and watching mourners file by the coffin.

When Mr. Bell's mother, Valerie, approached her son's body, Mrs.
Dorismond burst into tears and laid her head on Mrs. Diallo's shoulder.

A few minutes later Mrs. Dorismond and Mrs. Diallo walked over to the
next pew, introduced themselves to Ms. Bell and said they were sorry.
The three of them hugged, and Ms. Bell told the two other mothers she
was sorry, too, for their losses.

When they returned to their seats, Mrs. Diallo said, "She's

Mrs. Dorismond said, "I know." 
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